The wedding at Cana in John 2 is a popular story that shows the ability of Yeshua as the Messiah. Many sermons have taught on this subject, especially about how it pertains to us spiritually. But did you know that Yeshua’s goal was to fulfill the scriptures (the Old Testament)? Everything he did was in accord with what his Father had already established. This first miraculous sign was no different.
In this article we’ll answer three questions:
- Why use ceremonial jars?
- What does wine symbolize?
- What’s the significance of his first miracle?
The story goes like this. Yeshua and his disciples went to a wedding in Cana in Galilee. His mom was already there. The wine ran out and the people were already drunk. When Yeshua’s mother became aware of the situation, she commented to Yeshua about this.
He replied, “Woman, what’s that got to with me or you? My time hasn’t come yet.”
Yeshua addressed his mother as “woman.” This was to establish a distance between them. It was as if he was saying, “Yes, you’re my mom, but you can’t go against God and His plan.” He knew he had a purpose and he felt it wasn’t time to show people. Yet, you got to wonder how Mary even knew he could fix the problem. Perhaps, he was doing things like this as a child. Whatever the case, she knew he could help. So she ignored him and told the servants to do whatever he said to do.
You can say she had faith. In spite of what he says to her, he still obeys his mom. He knew the scriptures that told him to honor his parents. (Leviticus 19:3) However, he doesn’t make a big display of it. He never touches anything. Instead, he tells the servants what to do. He tells them to fill the six stone water jars that were used for Jewish ceremonial washings up to the brim. No one knew except those around him what was happening. He never laid hands or spoke over the water.
Why use ceremonial jars?
The ceremonial jars were used for a couple of reasons. The most obvious was the ability to wash one’s hands before eating anything. The Jewish people believed stone jars didn’t become unclean and clay pots could become unclean. Therefore, it was suitable for cleansing.
“If one of them falls into a clay pot, whatever is in it will become unclean, and you are to break the pot.” (Leviticus 11:33) However, a cistern remains clean, “…although a spring or cistern for collecting water remains clean…” (Leviticus 11:36).
The Purification of Sin Process
The second reason involved Yeshua fulfilling the scriptures. Read Leviticus 19 (at the end of the article for your convenience).
In Leviticus 19 it talks about being purified from sin through the ashes of the red heifer. A red female cow with no defects or faults and has never borne a yoke is to be slaughtered outside the camp. The priest takes the blood and sprinkles it toward the front of the tent of meeting seven times. Then the heifer is burned to ashes. These ashes are used to prepare water for purification of sin. This water is placed in a ceremonial stone jar. This ash water is for the people of Israel and the foreigner staying with them. Anyone who touches a dead body must use this water on the third and seventh days of the purification process to purify themselves. If you don’t do it, you defile the tabernacle of YHWH. Your punishment – you will be cut off from Israel.
A Heart of Stone – The Spiritual Side of Stone Jars
On the allegorical side, the stone jars could represent the heart of man. God says that He will take the heart of stone out and replace it with a heart of flesh – a willingness to obey. (Ezekiel 36:26; 11:19)
The heart of stone represented hardness, an unwillingness to obey, stubbornness. The heart of flesh represented a tender, responsive heart, one that is willing to obey His Creator, one that is submission and attentive, one who cares about hurting His maker and following His laws. (Jeremiah 24:7; 32:39; Zechariah 7:12)
The outer casing of the jars were stone but inside was water that needed to be transformed. That is what Yeshua did. He had more water added to the brim and then he turned it into the best version of itself. That’s what Yeshua will do for you and me. He’ll go pass the hard shell we put up and create something new in us.
What does wine symbolize?
Yeshua turned 120-180 gallons of water into wine. This was enough wine to last the rest of the wedding feast and probably extra. Yeshua always produced more than enough just like his Father did. He always gave more than was asked. With so much wine available what was Jesus trying to convey to us?
In Matthew 26:28 Yeshua tells his disciples that wine represented his blood for the forgiveness of sins. The foreshadowing to this is Moses’ first sign to Pharaoh when he turned water into blood – the first sign of deliverance for his people. This showed that deliverance will come through blood. In the case of Israel being delivered physically Moses showed Pharaoh the outcome of his decisions. Through the ten plagues everyone was being purified. Either they listened to YHWH or they suffered.
When it came to final plague YHWH told His people to obey Him and spread the blood of the sacrificed lamb on the doorpost so the death angel could pass over them. However, if they didn’t obey Him, they would die like the Egyptians. Unfortunately, the Egyptians were hardhearted. The last plague involved the first-born dying. Because of their deaths, Pharaoh let Israel go. Salvation had come at the cost of the first-borns of Egypt. Now salvation would come through the death of the first-born of God’s only begotten son, who died for the whole world. God always gives more.
First water, then purification, then the blood = salvation. The first time you are born is through water. You are constantly going through something until you acknowledge your need for Yehsua. Then you are born again through His blood.
Every time you take communion (you drink the wine) you are acknowledging your need for our Great King Yeshua to reign in your life.
What’s the significance of his first public sign involving turning water into wine?
This first miracle done at a wedding signifies Yeshua’s whole purpose. He came to redeem people back to God so they can become the bride and partake in the wedding feast God is preparing. You can’t enter into God’s temple without being sprinkled with the blood of the sacrificed lamb. His Holy Spirit cannot reside in you (the temple of God) without Yeshua’s blood covering you.
Yeshua arrived on the third day of the wedding feast. Jewish wedding feasts usually last seven days. His first miracle is done on the third day at a wedding feast. The people in attendance were Jews. They were drunk but weren’t supposed to be. Drunkenness is considered a sin. This aligned with the third day of purification of sin.
But it wasn’t just that sin; it was the sin that is birth with us when we are born. It’s the original sin that Yeshua came to set us free from which led to eternal death. Eternal death is the separation we had before Yeshua came along. It was the hopelessness of never reuniting with our God for all eternity. It was us always searching for something to worship because in our heart of hearts we knew we belonged to someone else.
Yeshua went to the Jews first because that was his mandate from God. They were His special people, His firstborn chosen nation.
For you are a people set apart as holy for ADONAI your God. ADONAI your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his own unique treasure. (Deuteronomy 7:6)
They are the apple of His eye.
For ADONAI-Tzva’ot has sent me on a glorious mission to the nations that plundered you, and this is what he says: “Anyone who injures you injures the very pupil of my eye. (Zechariah 2:8)
Even Yeshua told his disciples that they will be witnesses for him first in Jerusalem, then Judea and then the rest of the world.
But you will receive power when the Ruach HaKodesh comes upon you; you will be my witnesses both in Yerushalayim and in all Y’hudah and Shomron, indeed to the ends of the earth! (Acts 1:8)
Yeshua, being a Jew himself, knew how his Father felt about His people. It was only right for him to go to the Jews first. So it is appropriate that his first miracle would be done at a wedding feast that His people attended.
By doing this Yeshua manifested his glory. He showed who he really is. The jars were filled to the top (brim) so nothing else could go in there. He never touched the water. The servants did. It had to be a miracle. He fulfilled Torah. In this first act he proved he was the Messiah they were waiting for. This is why his disciples trusted in him.
This first miracle in John spoke of Yeshua’s whole ministry. He used purification stone jars to represent the hardness of hearts and showing how he was the one who would forgive sins. Through his blood the people would become righteous and eligible to attend the wedding feast of Yah.
Have you accepted Yeshua as your Lord and Savior? I don’t know everything so I would love to hear what wisdom you received from this first miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana.
1ADONAI said to Moshe and Aharon, 2“This is the regulation from the Torah which ADONAI has commanded. Tell the people of Israel to bring you a young red female cow without fault or defect and which has never borne a yoke. 3You are to give it to El’azar the cohen (priest); it is to be brought outside the camp and slaughtered in front of him. 4El’azar the cohen is to take some of its blood with his finger and sprinkle this blood toward the front of the tent of meeting seven times. 5The heifer is to be burned to ashes before his eyes -its skin, meat, blood and dung is to be burned to ashes. 6The cohen is to take cedar-wood, hyssop and scarlet yarn and throw them onto the heifer as it is burning up. 7Then the cohen is to wash his clothes and himself in water, after which he may re-enter the camp; but the cohen will remain unclean until evening. 8The person who burned up the heifer is to wash his clothes and himself in water, but he will remain unclean until evening. 9A man who is clean is to collect the ashes of the heifer and store them outside the camp in a clean place. They are to be kept for the community of the people of Israel to prepare water for purification from sin. 10The one who collected the ashes of the heifer is to wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. For the people of Israel and for the foreigner staying with them this will be a permanent regulation. 11“Anyone who touches a corpse, no matter whose dead body it is, will be unclean for seven days. 12He must purify himself with [these ashes] on the third and seventh days; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself the third and seventh days, he will not be clean. 13Anyone who touches a corpse, no matter whose dead body it is, and does not purify himself has defiled the tabernacle of ADONAI. That person will be cut off from Israel, because the water for purification was not sprinkled on him. He will be unclean; his uncleanness is still on him. 14“This is the law: when a person dies in a tent, everyone who enters the tent and everything in the tent will be unclean for seven days. 15Every open container without a cover closely attached is unclean. 16Also whoever is in an open field and touches a corpse, whether of someone killed by a weapon or of someone who died naturally, or the bone of a person, or a grave, will be unclean for seven days. 17“For the unclean person they are to take some of the ashes of the animal burned up as a purification from sin and add them to fresh water in a container. 18A clean person is to take a bunch of hyssop leaves, dip it in the water and sprinkle it on the tent, on all the containers, on the people who were there, and on the person who touched the bone or the person killed or the one who died naturally or the grave. 19The clean person will sprinkle the unclean person on the third and seventh days. On the seventh day he will purify him; then he will wash his clothes and himself in water; and he will be clean at evening. 20The person who remains unclean and does not purify himself will be cut off from the community because he has defiled the sanctuary of ADONAI. The water for purification has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean. 21This is to be a permanent regulation for them. The person who sprinkles the water for purification is to wash his clothes. Whoever touches the water for purification will be unclean until evening. 22Anything the unclean person touches will be unclean, and anyone who touches him will be unclean until evening.